Ding Ding, round 1. Or round SEVEN as it actually is. Why do the FA insist on this ludicrous descriptorial charade? Harrumph. Anyhow, enough shocks to keep you interested? Three on the scoreboard with a few more potentials in the replays. We don’t like to be greedy but it’s just not enough. Not ruddy once have we seen a proper shock and, when we do, we will stop. No, probably not.
A quick word about one of the games we caught and then a review of the round.
At this stage last season, Bath, Kettering, Northwich and Staines sated our bloodlust for cupsets . And this time last year we had just watched in hope as Cambridge United dismantled non-league Ilkeston Town. Rather than non-league, Ilkeston Town are now non operational, it being vaguely ironic that their last FA Cup game was one of their biggest.
This time next year we hope we aren’t mourning the death of Harrow Borough, who we also hoped could pull off a shock. It is unlikely because their prefabricated Dance Hall is a revenue generator and they aren’t thought ot be at threat – but then that’s what Ilson fans thought … Anyway, once again, no giant killing for us. It was not to be. A thoroughly professional Chesterfield had no real trouble spotting the banana skin, they threw a carpet of sand over it, made it safe and then got on with scoring a couple of goals.
That’s not to say that Harrow were entirely outclassed, they had a few moments of encouragement and Dewayne Clarke caused problems with his movement. But you got the impression that Chesterfield were only in first gear and when much hyped forward Craig Davies was called upon to swat the non-league wasp, his relaxed gate, superb touch and bit of guile proved they needed to move up to second in order to obtain a result.
Harrow had opened up the Dance Hall to the hordes, the regular club bar being held over for visiting VIPs and dignitaries. The hordes never really materialised though and pre-match was oddly subdued. The excitement seemed not to have got to the locals and the away fans seemed indifferent to visiting a new ground. Even in the ground there wasn’t much of an early buzz, it was more like a run of the mill BSP match between two poorly supported sides.
It did warm up though, a teenage Alex Song hair-alike got some tuneless attention from a dozen or so Spireites fans urging him to ‘give them a wave’. He obliged until the Chesterfield jukebox switched to “He’s got a mushroom on his head”, when I think he raised an eyebrow and eschewed his brief flirtation with infamy.
A shade over 1000 fans in the ground is obviously a lot more than usual but still shy of what anyone would have hoped for. Maybe Chesterfield just aren’t THAT much of a draw? A fair result, a fairly entertaining game and a more than decent day out – replete with post-match 80th birthday party in the Dance Hall and Ken Charlery’s facial topiary.
Elsewhere, Tipton Town and Hythe got put emphatically back in their box but a handful of non-league sides stepped up to the oche.
Simon Head covered the harrowing Kent tale elsewhere on this site but what a result! Revenge is a dish best served at the home of your nemesis after they’ve pillaged your club and cocked a snook at you. We have some sympathy for the injured Matty Lawrence and the vast majority of Gills fans but this is a moral victory for David and a cautionary tale for bigger clubs daring to show contempt for the little guy. [Take note for Round 2 MK Dons]
Meanwhile, up in Tamworth, on loan Derby keeper James Severn kept the Lambs giant-killing hopes alive while a superb top corner curler from Danny Thomas ultimately won the game against Dario Gradi’s League 2 Crewe.
It was with less pleasure, but pleasure nevertheless, we saw FC United of Manchester play their way to a 3-2 victory over Rochdale. ‘Cheat’ has been a harsh and overused word to describe the FC winner and, although it clearly should not have been given, we bloody well enjoyed it.
What took the gloss off, for us, was the FC fans spending the vast majority of the game not celebrating their own team but berating the owners of the club they left behind. While the atmosphere was quite clearly electric it’s a shame that the one thing I’ll take away from watching it is the FC United Players deserved a little more respect from their own fans.
We should really add Swindon Supermarine to our list of successful non-league debutants. Although they ‘only’ beat non-league opposition, it was opposition further up the pyramid. Supermarine beat Blue Square North’s Eastwood Town 2-1, probably to some relief. Having not got the glamour tie that some of their non-league couterparts managed, they have done enough for a second shot. FA Cup Round 2! This is uncharted territory for ‘Marine, heady days for their fans.